Chilling and beautiful Diane, directed by Michael Mongillo, was one of the few films at this year’s FrightFest which truly took me by surprise being that it was far more interesting than other straight up supernatural horrors with ten times the budget but a quarter of the creativity.
Revolving around injured war veteran Steve (Jason Alan Smith) a quiet man with few friends who lives an insular and unhappy existence we see his every day shattered when he finds the dead body of a local singer stabbed in his garden. Captivated by her beauty and losing his senses he takes a picture of the lifeless yet luminous figure and as the police investigation goes on around him he becomes more and more obsessed by her.
Placed as the prime suspect by the overly aggressive and pig headed cops who hound and stalk Steve convinced he has committed this crime regardless of his alibie’s and the facts around them the troubled man also starts getting grief from his meat head neighbors who also think he is guilty.
However the dead Diane’s discovery in his back yard has prompted a change in the unassuming almost invisible ex-soldier who now throws away his walking stick and gains confidence and determination in his daily life all the while his fixation on the captivating corpse and what secrets she holds haunting him both in his mind and soon it seems also in his home.
Slowly building the story and the characters Mongillo, who also wrote the script from Matt Giannini original source material, gives us plenty of time to get to know Steve played brilliantly by Jason Alan Smith and the various seemingly foul figures thrown into his life by this shocking and strange event which alters everything.
Best of all is the development of the deceased Diane wonderfully brought to life by Carlee Avers whose character is crafted from the stories of the police and her grieving husband and the dreams and visitations Steve experiences as he worships her at the crime scene he has turned into a shrine making her into a figure to both desire and fear.
Blending genres from horror to thriller to romance to crime Diane also mixes dramatic reality and stylized fantasy with the grey daily grind of Steve’s sad story slamming into scenes of colour filled with light where we see him and Diana in love but drenched in red in much darker moments.
Keeping the audience in suspended animation not only on what has really happened to the tragic singer but also how far gone Steve is and whether the ghostly apparitions are a frightening fiction or true terror, Diane delivers a powerful final act as all is finally revealed to us and the movies complex anti-hero.
Less about jump scares and gory frights and more about atmosphere, mood and some excellent acting Diane is a powerful piece about being haunted by memories, guilt and regret that will stay with you much longer than many other movies have long since passed away.
Read Five FrightFest Facts From Michael Mongillo director of Diane right HERE